Bleak, theatrical, Quebecois.
A sparse, dimly-lit set opens to tell the story of a young French Canadian's struggle with his family. Michel Tremblay's Bonjour, La, Bonjour explores the obstacles Serge (Kevin MacDonnell), an only son, encounters while interacting with his difficult family.
After spending three months in Europe, Serge returns home to the troubling realization he is in love with his sister, Nicole (Kristin Eveleigh). In the midst of his decision, Serge must also contend with his meddlesome sisters, aunts and father.
Yet, although Serge's connection with Nicole is the focal point of the play, their interactions in this performance are eclipsed by the more engaging and interesting family members.
Rebecca Stang and Andrea Richelhoff are ideal as Serge's aunts, who live in misery and have grown to hate each other. It is partly due to them that Serge recognizes he must pursue his own happiness--even if his future remains uncertain.
Tremblay originally wrote the play to express his love for his father, with whom he had an awkward relationship. On stage, as Serge struggles to come to terms with his feelings for his sister, he must also deal with his detached relationship with his father, Armand (Michael Petersen). MacDonnell and Petersen admirably depict the intricate and delicate emotions shared by father and son.
The barren set of Bonjour, La, Bonjour dictates a performance-based play, which can either succeed or fail, depending on the performers. Luckily, despite complex material, this production succeeds in creating characters the audience can empathize with.
While raising questions about familial relations, no answers are directly given. This is perhaps the best aspect of Bonjour, La, Bonjour, as each viewing will be unique.